Every service interaction is an opportunity for value creation. This is especially true in the inbound contact center environment, where service calls can turn into moments to cross-sell and upsell.
The service-to-sales concept has been around for quite some time, but its full potential hasn’t been realized. Little or no personalization, unmet revenue opportunities, and a lack of brand advocacy are just some missed opportunities that occur when sales activities aren’t optimized in the customer service center. But it doesn’t have to be that way, with new sales perspectives and technology.
To sell, or not to sell
Many inbound contact centers do not have a formalized service-to-sales program. They are trained to serve, but few are trained to spot sales opportunities that customers want. When they do propose cross-sell or upsell offers, many associates simply present sales opportunities at unwanted or awkward moments during their calls or chats because they are simply instructed to incorporate them into the conversation at some point. These poorly timed interactions leave customers wondering why a product is being sold to them at moments that feel either forced or untailored to their particular needs.
Even worse, many contact centers have an incredibly passive attitude toward sales. We see many interaction models dedicated to solving customer issues or only presenting sales opportunities when asked for.
AI and people join forces to win at service and sales
In our experience at TTEC, a personalized, value-driven customer experience serves as the linchpin to unlocking share of wallet, brand loyalty, and retention, which in turn translates into closed sales and top-line revenue.
Digital capabilities, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, are now being used to serve up relevant customer information that associates can tap into to inform valuable sales offers. These technology-enabled, relevant interactions provide value at the right moment to customers.
Advanced service-to-sales platforms can quickly become the link between machine and human workforces. Associates can use digital tools to not only get unique insight about their customers, but to also give them more confidence to know when, and when not, to sell by creating a structured solution.
They are being guided on what to sell and how to sell across multiple channels. Insight comes from sources, such as CRM and other customer databases, ERP systems, web data, and social media data. The key is bringing this intelligence together and making it accessible and usable for associates.
Organizations can optimize customer experience by engaging customers at strategic moments, such as during support calls, product purchases, plan changes, and inquiries to help with both service and sales. We’ve found that applying advanced service to sales platforms leads to improved sales efficiencies, cross-sell opportunities, and other benefits.
Welcome to the era of Service to Sales +
For example, using real-time, personalized next-best-action algorithms and next-best-offer analytics, TTEC’s Service to Sales + platform lets associates pivot service interactions into holistic sales opportunities that provide real value to individual customers.
In a typical interaction, an AI recommendation engine gives the associate the top cross-sell and upsell offers paired with confidence measurements. The criteria are based on specific inquiries during a support conversation that can be fed into the AI recommendation tool. As a result, the AI pops up a new suggestion with confidence measurements and personalized messaging that is adjusted to the new product or service.
For instance, if a customer calls a mobile phone provider about device protection, an associate can enter the inquiry into the AI field and it will update one of the upsell opportunities into the appropriate upgrade. These tools, served up directly to the associate’s desktop, provide a fluid and interactive guide to empower associates to suggest the right offer to the right customer at the right time, while still focusing on the core service interaction. (see Figure 1).
4 steps to service-to-sales excellence
One of the most powerful features of the Service to Sales + technology is the ability for associates to build a rapport with individual customers. This can be done by leveraging their past purchases to uncover new opportunities.
For example, let’s say a new telecom associate is fresh out of service training. Her sales background is weak, which historically can spell trouble when a customer calls about switching mobile phone plans. Using the Service to Sales + platform, she can walk through four steps to ensure a fantastic customer experience:
1.Getting to know you: Start the interaction with a quick but insightful impression of the caller. The platform shows the associate the caller’s age, family situation, and other information to build an idea of what could potentially benefit the interaction. But keep in mind that the associate should be tactful with the caller’s personal information or photos shown, so as not to be too invasive.
2.More than an emoji: From there she can see if the customer has a history of buying various mobile phones brands, like Apple or Samsung. Her willingness to buy another product can be measured with an emoticon in her profile. This emoticon (happy face=brand promoter, frowny face=not satisfied, risk of churn, etc.) can be drawn in real time from the customer’s historical data.
3.Building confidence: By better understanding the customer, the associate can effectively find opportunities to cross-sell and upsell the brand with products the customer actually wants at specific moments during the interaction. The offers are served up through AI tools and include a confidence percentage to guide the associate about which to offer first. The confidence measurements drop or rise according to what the customer chooses (i.e., buying or declining a cellular upgrade), then the model is updated in real time based on which offers a customer accepts or rejects. This continues to train the model for future use.
4.The perfect pitch: Dynamic scripting capabilities can then tell the associate what to recommend and how to personally message it to the consumer. The associate can amend the script in real time based on how the real conversation goes. And if during the exchange the customer asks about a different offer or package, the associate can type up a specific inquiry and the AI field can serve up new suggestions and offers based on the scenario.
Digitally empowered sales
This innovative approach to service to sales gives associates a helping digital hand that yields impressive results. In our experiences we’ve seen some brands increase top-line revenue by 20 percent on average through maximized average order values. It also boosts associate CSAT by empowering employees to have relevant, valuable conversations with customers that actually help them, not just sell to them.
The structured yet flexible layout of the Service to Sales + platform gives it the ability to flourish in any industry. For example, in the highly regulated healthcare environment, associates can use static scripting versus dynamic scripting to keep the conversation on track during emotionally and financially tense conversations.This static scripting is highly useful across industries because it allows consistency across the entire workforce when explaining important disclaimers and terms.
In addition, the Service to Sales + platform can help outsourced associates who may not be aware of certain brand or cultural nuances. The AI-generated responses can help guide these associates and bridge the gap between different cultures. For example, if a U.S. customer asks about parking for an entertainment event in Boston to an associate in the Philippines, the AI inquiry field can pull up information on the area.
Remember, technology can only take the service-to-sales concept so far. If you expect a service associate to sell, incentives and support are critical. Any program should be backed up by a rewards and recognition program or other perks for combined service/sales associates.
Start your advanced service-to-sales engine
As businesses compete in a digital-first world, advanced service to sales will be a true competitive differentiator. The ability to predict and personalize customer offers through tools, such as next best action analytics and real-time dashboards can be a powerful force in driving great customer and employee experiences.